| IRP Brainstorming
Bokashi composting is an easy to describe, low-tech but efficient process for composting food waste that includes meat and dairy. A pilot project for demonstrating the benefits of Bokashi composting at OSU during summer 2018 could be successfully completed well within a $5,000 budget. Bokashi composters are relatively cheap to obtain—a 55-gallon waste fermenting system can be obtained for $185.00. Bokashi composting is low tech and has supposed benefits such as: 1) The fermented waste can be dug directly into the soil, benefiting microbial life and soil structure, enabling plants to absorb water and nutrients more easily; 2) the fermented waste from can be added to a compost heap without the concern of bugs or animals digging up the refuse; 3) the liquid, or Bokashi juice, drained from the Bokashi bins is an excellent fertilizer garden plants if diluted with water; the probiotic liquid drained from your Bokashi bins can be poured undiluted down drains—unblocking them and keeping them free of odors! Testing the effectiveness of Bokashi composting could be accomplished while raising typical garden plants in a plot at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture at OSU.
|Phase 2: Web Search of OSU Topic Options
A small-scale pilot project that tests the purported effectiveness Bokashi composting would make an excellent education project at OSU. OSU’s University Housing and Dining Service (UHDS) estimates food waste on campus to be between 200,000 and 250,000 pounds annually. And the owners of the local landfill—Republic Services–has limited options for composting food waste, and much of the food waste generated by OSU and the surrounding community ends up in the landfill. Bokashi composting could be a viable alternative. But Bokashi composting has not been the subject of much research—and what should especially be validated are the claims of rapid decomposition of food waste—claims such as: Bokashi composting uses any organic refuse – raw or cooked meat, fish, vegetable peels, bones, cooked leftovers, cheese, small scraps of paper and even torn up cartons. Different ingredients could yield varying results—this could be tested in a small-scale pilot project. Results could be documented by Horticulture student workers and posted to the Horticulture Department web site: http://horticulture.oregonstate.edu/content/projects-urban-and-community-horticulture .
|Phase 3: OSU Library Online Search
From searches of the OSU Library, Google, Amazon and the OSU Portal, two pdf articles were located that supported the effectiveness of Bokashi composting. Please note: “Effective Microorganisms” is the fermenting/composting agent that grows within Bokashi Compost.
1) “The Influence of Effective Microorganisms on the Growth and Nitrate Content of Vegetable Transplants,” Margit Olle and Ingrid Wilson, in the Journal of Advanced Agricultural Technologies, Vol. 2, No. 1, June 2015. The abstract for the article states: “The rationale behind effective microorganisms (EM) is based on the inoculation of soil with mixed cultures of beneficial microorganisms to create an environment more favorable for the growth and health of plants. The purpose of this investigation was to assess the influence of effective microorganisms on the growth and nitrate content of cucumber and squash transplants. . .. Conclusion: EM improves the growth and reduces the nitrate content of cucumber, pumpkin and squash transplants.”
2) “EFFECTIVE MICROORGANISMS AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON GROWTH AND YIELD OF PIGWEED (Amaranthus dubians),” Chrispaul Muthaura, David M. Musyimi, Joseph A. Ogur and Samuel V. Okello, in the ARPN Journal of Agricultural and Biological Science, VOL. 5, NO. 1, JANUARY 2010. The abstract state: “The results from this study demonstrated that growth and yield of pigweeds may be improved by inoculating the plants with effective microorganisms, and as a result reduce the use of fertilizers in production of this vegetable hence promoting sustainable agriculture.”
|Phase 4: Personal Observation/ Information Exchanges
As an area of sustainability research, a Bokashi composting pilot study would complement existing educational activities at OSU-Corvallis. Currently, non-Bokashi composting techniques are actively taught as a part of degree programs in Soil Science and Environmental Science—and Campus Recycling promotes composting for departments and buildings throughout campus. If successful, a small-scale pilot project could be extended and become a technique for recycling food wastes while improving soil quality, plant health and agricultural yield. Bokashi composting on a large scale may be possible, which would be useful not only for reducing food waste at OSU, but also would benefit organic farmers wishing to utilize such a technique.
|Based upon our research regarding ways to improve “best practices for reducing food waste at Oregon State University,” we are proposing during summer 2018 that a Bokoshi composting pilot project be staged at OSU’s Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture. As proposed, this Bokoshi composting pilot project would demonstrate a low-tech, efficient, and scalable method for composting all kitchen food waste, including meat and dairy. This proposed pilot project would also demonstrate that Bokashi composting in only five weeks’ time produces a very high-quality soil amendment.
Bokashi composting is an anaerobic fermentation technique that likely originated in Korea, where “deliberate collection and culturing of naturally occurring soil microorganisms has been a common agricultural practice for centuries; and application of these cultures to crop soils is believed to minimize the need for applications of inorganic soil amendments” (Park and DuPonte, 2010). Scientific studies are available to validate the benefits of mainstream composting techniques– aerobic (oxygen-based) composting and vermiculture (worm) composting—but “no such body of work yet exists for Bokashi—which is a technique using beneficial microbes that flourish in anaerobic, acidic environments” (Planet Natural Research Center, 2017).
Large-scale, commercially viable methods for composting food wastes (that include meat and dairy) are still being developed in the state of Oregon—and currently only select customers in the OSU-Corvallis area are eligible for such a service from our local garbage company (Republic Services, 2017). Where this service in unavailable, food wastes usually go into the trash. Bokashi composting is an excellent alternative to discarding food waste into the trash—because such discarded food waste ends-up in the landfill, producing methane gas. According to the US-EPA, methane gases generated by US landfills are the third highest source for atmospheric greenhouse gases (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2018).
As an environmental benefit for OSU—and as excellent opportunity for an education exploration of a classic method of recycling food wastes—we are proposing two Bokashi composting options for summer of 2018:
· Option 1: At the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture conduct a pilot study of 3 complete Bokashi composting cycles using six 5-gallon Bokashi buckets with the waste trenched into multiple garden locations near multiple crops—with photo documentation of plant growth and waste decomposition during the growing cycle. Food wastes (including meat and dairy) would be generated through three onsite dinners to benefit the Sustainability programs at OSU.
· Option 2: At the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture conduct a pilot study of 3 complete Bokashi composting cycles using three 55-gallon Bokashi buckets with the waste trenched into multiple garden locations near multiple crops—with photo documentation of plant growth and waste decomposition during the growing cycle. Food wastes (including meat and dairy) would be generated through three onsite dinners to benefit the Sustainability programs at OSU.
|Pacific Region Compost (PRC) at Coffin Butte Landfill, Corvallis—offers composting of residential/commercial food wastes mixed with yard debris. Available only to some customers, this 90-day composting process requires 150 °F heat plus sorting, grinding and aeration by repeated turning of the piles.||The Bokashi Organico Dual Composting System—available from Amazon for $109.00 with free shipping: Each set includes: 2 waste buckets, 1kg Bokashi bran, 2 drainage taps, 2 lids, 2 strainers, a scoop, a mashing utensil, a drain cup, and a user guide. Made of 100% recycled plastic.|
|Conclusion (with Recommendations)|
Although a liquid version (12 oz. bottle of EM-1 Microbial Inoculant—available from Amazon for $16.99) of the “Essential Microorganisms” used for Bokashi fermentation/composting could be applied directly to garden soil to improve crop yields, the pilot project that we a proposing involves both the recycling of food wastes and experiments with improving crop yield. Bokashi composting is a simple concept, but there are several variables (waste sourcing and planting techniques) to explore. For these reasons, we recommend using more Bokashi buckets rather than less. We recommend Option #1:
At the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture conduct a pilot study of 3 complete Bokashi composting cycles using six 5-gallon Bokashi buckets with the waste trenched into multiple garden locations near multiple crops—with photo documentation of plant growth and waste decomposition during the growing cycle. Food wastes (including meat and dairy) would be generated through three onsite dinners to benefit the Sustainability programs at OSU.
After experimenting with food wastes of varying composition and garden soil amendments for different vegetable crops, Bokashi composting could become a practical means of composting food wastes generated at OSU. Bokashi composting has low-tech requirements and is both scalable and efficient—as long as adequate garden space is available to complete the compost cycle.
For the purposes of the pilot project, food wastes that specifically contain meat and dairy can be generated through SSI (Student Sustainability Initiative) benefit dinners (Lasagna, pizza, and taco salad themes) that would pay for themselves through suggested donations. There would be no further ROI for this project. Although both options are within a $5K budget, option #1 would provide more flexibility—both for sourcing/documentation of food waste and for burying the pre-compost adjacent to multiple garden crop locations during the summer of 2018 at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture.
Straightforward, uncomplicated test experiments using the Bokashi composting process could provide part-time summer work for students involved in the Bokashi composting project. Student participants in the pilot study would be paid $15/hour, and setup of the garden area is estimated at $1000. Three Bokashi composting kits are estimated to cost $327. Documentation and web-publishing (via the OSU Horticulture web site mentioned earlier) of the experimental test results would contribute to public awareness of the benefits of Bokashi composting.
Park, Hoon and DuPonte, Michael W. “How to Cultivate Indigenous Microorganisms.” Biotechnology,
Aug. 2008 [slightly revised, June 2010] BIO-9.
Planet Natural Research Center. “Bokashi.” Copyright © 2004-2017, All rights reserved.
Republic Services. “Pacific Region Compost and Acceptable Materials.” Finance and Administration,
Oregon State University, 2017.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Basic Information about Landfill Gas.” Landfill Methane
Outreach Program (LMOP), 2018.